Tony Pashos could become a prominent player in Sunday's game at Heinz Field because it is on the right side of the Jaguars' offensive line that they hope to gain an advantage over the Steelers defense.
In a normal week, Pashos would be preparing to face Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith, but Smith was lost for the season this week to a torn biceps he sustained in the Steelers' loss in New England. Smith was considered to be the Steelers' best defensive lineman and the gap between Smith and his replacement, Travis Kirschke, is thought to be distinct. The Jaguars, no doubt, will make every effort to find out how distinct it is.
"I'm sure they will. I'm planning on it," Kirschke told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They're a great running team. They're going to run the ball whether I'm there or not; that's their game plan, that's what they do and they do it well."
The Jaguars signed Pashos in free agency from the Ravens, with whom Pashos played against the Steelers twice a year. He knows the Steelers, Heinz Field and Kirschke and his backup, Nick Eason, well.
"I played against those guys before. They're there because they're good at what they do," he said. "(The Steelers) play tough and they make you think as well as play hard-nosed football.
"You have to be at your best. It's a physically challenging game, as well as schematically. They give you a lot of looks. Everything you think of football in December, they give you," Pashos added.
Running back Fred Taylor is on a three-game, 100-yard rushing streak. The Steelers defense, second in the league against the run, has allowed only two 100-yard rushers in the last 63 games.
"The last three weeks, I've been picking up some steam and I want to continue doing that," Taylor said. "They're going to be the same old Steelers. They won't change. 'You gotta go in there and kick their (butt).' That's what (coach Mike Tomlin) is saying to them all week."
Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer says he likes that kind of football.
"Love it. I've said numerous times, I love playing against Pittsburgh," Spicer said.
The physical battle may be highlighted by cold, windy and snowy conditions forecast for Sunday. The Jaguars haven't played in temperatures below 62 degrees this season but Spicer said the cold will not be a factor in the game.
"It's all in your mind. If we're cold, they're cold. We're all human. They have the same cleats we do. It comes down to between the ears," Spicer said.
Spicer has been the team's most consistent pass-rusher this season and he'll be chasing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this week. Roethlisberger is the league's fourth-ranked passer, right behind the Jaguars' David Garrard.
"I think he's better," Spicer said of Roethlisberger. "He's looking down the field more. He has a better grip on what they're asking of him. He's looking to make that big play and that's something we can't let happen."